With the abundance of public holidays and an average of 18 vacation days per year, the stereotype of the overworked and exhausted Japanese worker may seem like a relic of the past. But a recent survey by Expedia Japan comparing the vacation schedules of 24 countries proves yet again that the stereotype is alive and well.
For the sixth year in a row, Japan came in dead last as workers are only taking an average of 39% of their annual paid leave. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Japan ranked last in worker satisfaction.
Despite Japan coming close to the global average of 20 vacation days a year, the average Japanese worker only takes seven of those – and not necessarily for fun, but sometimes instead of sick days – leading to Japan’s position as most exhausted country.
But South Korea came in a very close second, as workers there also only took seven of their vacation days. However, since Korean workers only have an average of 10 days to take off in total, the ratio was not as dramatic as in Japan. On the complete opposite end of the chart, well-rested French and Brazilian workers take all 30 of their allotted 30 vacation days.
The chart shows 13 of the surveyed countries and how Japan ranks lowest in days taken off to vacation days available ratio. The gray portion of the bar represents the average number of vacation days in a country, and the blue portion shows how many of those days are actually taken.
Japanese workers also ranked high in another list: the percentage of workers who don’t take any vacation. A whopping 17% of Japan is apparently so dedicated to their job that they will not take a single day of paid vacation off. Americans do, however, come pretty close with 13% of the country’s workforce not taking any time off. Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single Australian in the survey that didn’t take at least one day off during the year.
As expected, Japan also came in last in the survey in worker satisfaction, with only 60% of Japanese workers liking their job situation. Norway came out top with 90% of its residents loving their work, while India and Malaysia came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Japanese Internet commenters were not especially shocked by the outcome of the survey, but many expressed their displeasure at having to face such a dismal work life. Some were decidedly unhappy about the toll “modern” and “advanced” Japan took on their personal life.
-- Yesterday I took a trip with my family. It was the first time I used my vacation days for an actual vacation in 16 years.
-- At my company, you only ask for time off if you are able to handle seeing the boss angry.
-- In my old company, we had to “apply” to take a holiday and give them the reasons why.
-- When my kid was sick, I had to use my vacation days to take care of him and before I knew it, they were all gone. Of course, the company doesn’t understand why I’m so exhausted after my “break.”
Most blamed the work culture of Japan for not encouraging its workers to take time off and some wondered if the system would ever change. A few had success stories about how their boss or company had come around and was quite happy to give employees time off to rest and relax.
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